The amazing journey that is Robb Johnson continues with his new album "My Best Regards", sixteen tracks that ripple the waters of life that most of us paddle frantically to stay afloat in whilst we watch the select few float effortlessly by.
And as the years' drift by, you reflect on a journey that started in the mid-Eighties with the vinyl "In Amongst The Rain" LP, the first release on Irregular Records, to today's release, number IRR100. You reflect on the career spanning retrospective box set, the impressive 5cd offering "A Reasonable History Of Impossible Demands" released earlier this year. You acknowledge that 5 cd's is still a woefully short reflective of Robb's work, it left us wanting more and thankfully we didn't have long to wait.
"My Best Regards" then. The album starts with "September 1939", an accapella opening, the feeling of normality after a momentous decision, ostensibly the declaring of WWI yet it could be just as appropriate for Brexit, "It seemed that nothing much was altered. It hardly felt like Summer gone. We woke to find it was still Monday. We went to work & carried on".
A sober tone that is lightened almost immediately with "A Hollingdean Lullabye" a rock based uptempo blast that showcases the rest of the band which in this case is Jenny Carr on keyboards, John Forrester bass and son Arvin on drums and percussion.
And so it continues, songs with opinions, with messages, with questions, political and personal covering subjects such as birthdays "Suzie's Party" which implores us to "catch the moonlight whilst it lasts" to Franz Kafka and the ghosts of Prague. View points that make you consider, make you think while they entertain.
There's the sadness of our migration policies in "When The Tide Comes In" there's the social comment wrapped up with infectious silliness "Better Than TV" about meeting Elvis Presley at the bus stop late at night.
"A Whole Lot less" also flirts with pop, it's an engagement that promises an early marriage and a lifetime spent together, such is the catchiness of Robb's music.
"The Sidmouth Promade" portrays a vision of an England I'd be glad to live in and on good days I believe I do.
And yet it wouldn't be a Robb Johnson record without an outright political point to be made, here it's "The Future Starts Here" inspired by JC, we can make a change "We carry with us the work of our fathers, the strength of our mothers, their faith in a future that works for millions. Not millionaires."
Three bonus tracks rework songs with Reem Kelani, where the plight of the migrants' hits home starkly and in an emotionally painful way forcing you to consider their position and our stance. The Hullabaloo Quire add choral effects which enhance and enchant.
All in all this is a perfectly balanced, well-crafted album that stays with you and improves on each repeated playing.
Robb Johnson is recognised as one of the UK finest Singer-Songwriters, "My Best Regards" is arguably his best release to date, so it's fitting to leave the last words to the man "…most of what the media & the music business want to consume is mindless & forgettable, there are so many singers & musicians & writers creating fine & independent work. I have always aspired to be part of that community, that writes & sings what it likes".
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